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Sample college courses for free through MOOCs

Friday, December 07, 2012
Students who have taken Advanced Placement (AP) courses in high school are actually taking college level courses. However, the range of course topics is limited and enrolling in AP courses involves an investment of both class time and money. If you’d like to sample college courses for free and on your own schedule you can enroll in a massively open online course (MOOC).

What are MOOCs?
MOOCs are collaborative online learning programs in which tens of thousands of students can learn about a variety of topics. These Internet-based programs are offered by a variety of prestigious colleges, including Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In addition to university-specific MOOCs, several third-party platforms have emerged in recent years, most notably Coursera and Udacity. These platforms aggregate online courses from a number of universities and offer courses on a wide range of subjects from artificial intelligence to web development.

How can you benefit from MOOCs?
One of the best things about MOOCs is that they are completely free of charge. You don't need to apply for financial aid, or even formally enroll in a school to sign up for a class. Simply register via the Web site, and begin taking classes. Lectures are commonly delivered by streaming video, with supplemental materials and assignments sent by e-mail. In addition, coursework in certain programs is taught and graded by renowned professors such as Peter Norvig, Google's director of research, and Sebastian Thrun, a professor of computer science at Stanford University and senior researcher on Google's autonomous vehicles project.

MOOCs allow you to explore a variety of college-level subjects without committing to a specific major. This is an excellent way to gain valuable hands-on experience in subjects you may not have previously considered. You might even discover a subject that interests you as a potential college major.

Can classes taken through MOOCs be applied toward college credit?
At present, courses taken through MOOCs cannot be applied toward course credit.. If you successfully complete a course through a MOOC, you will typically receive a certificate of completion. This may be a favorable addition to a college application or résumé, and could be a useful way to prepare for college.

However, some education experts have said that the growing popularity of these programs could eventually mean that students can complete MOOC courses for college credit. In fact, The American Council on Education recently announced that it is working with Coursera and other professional organizations to evaluate whether certain MOOC courses should be worth college credit.

"While it may not be possible for a few years, high school students should eventually be able to take some of these free online courses on their own and, assuming they take a proctored exam and do well, submit them for college credit, just as they would an Advanced Placement exam," Tamar Lewin, an education correspondent, wrote in The New York Times.ADNFCR-16000756-ID-800922052-ADNFCR - helping you find colleges and universities that offer the accredited programs that most interest you.

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Sample college courses for free through MOOCs
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